Free Throws With a Little Will Cherry On Top Lead Griz to a Win Over PSU

By AUSTIN SMITH

Free throws and a little Will Cherry magic led the Montana Grizzlies to a 62-55 win over the Portland State Vikings Saturday evening.

The Griz hopped out to an early lead, but struggled mightily against a brick-wall Portland defense that forced a total of 11 turnovers.  Montana’s freshman center Andy Martin had a brilliant showing down low, dominating the key on both ends of the court and helping the Griz score 26 crucial points in the paint.

The Vikings had a glimmer of hope for the better part of the first half, propped up by junior Aaron Moore (14 points, 11 rebounds) and senior Renado Parker (12 points, seven rebounds).  That hope was decisively snuffed at the five-minute mark however, when Kevin Henderson’s ‘and-1’ was immediately followed by a Cherry steal, fast break, and nothing-but-net perimeter bucket.

That series shifted momentum towards the maroon bench once and for all, giving Montana the lead they needed to stave off a Viking run that came too little too late towards the end of the second half.  By the final whistle, Cherry was one of three Grizzlies in double digits for scoring and nearly squeaked out a double-double with 7 assists on the board.

As a team Montana shot 90% from the free throw line, and nearly exhibited the depth they’ll need to make it the Big Dance by adding 15 points off the bench.

The Griz are now 9-4 overall, and are currently enjoying a four-game Big Sky Conference win streak that will carry them into Grand Forks, North Dakota next Thursday, January 10th.  The North Dakota Fighting Sioux are 3-2 in conference play, with an overall record of 5-8.  After NoDak the Griz continue their road trip and will face the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday, January 12th.

Click on images below to enlarge and scroll through photos.

Kareem Jamar takes a break after getting knocked to the ground.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Kareem Jamar takes a...
Tip-off between the Montana Grizzlies and the Portland State Vikings; the Griz held on for a 62-55 victory.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Tip-off between the ...
Head Coach Wayne Tinkle reacts to a questionable out-of-bounds call early in the first half of Saturday's contest.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Head Coach Wayne Tin...
GrizVSPSU - _MG_2475.jpg
GrizVSPSU - _MG_2475...
Keron DeShields defends against Portland's Dre Winston Jr., as Grizzly Head Coach Wayne Tinkle asks for "hands-up" from the bench.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Keron DeShields defe...
Redshirt sophomore Michael Weisner fights for a rebound during the first half of Saturday's matchup against Portland State.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Redshirt sophomore M...
Hometown favorite Mathias Ward takes a shot from the perimeter during the second half of Saturday's 62-55 victory over Portland State.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Hometown favorite Ma...
Monte doing his best to distract the stat table late in the game Saturday evening.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Monte doing his best...
Members of the UM Spirit Squad perform a coordinated court-wide stunt during a timeout Saturday evening.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Members of the UM Sp...
Will Cherry powers his way towards the basket over Portland State's Lateef McMullan late in Saturday's matchup.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Will Cherry powers h...
Kareem Jamar is crowded as he looks to the basket during the second half of Saturday's contest.  Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., January 5th, 2013.
Kareem Jamar is crow...